By Robert Olsen, Ph. D.
Associate Professor of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
THE UNFAITHFUL BRIDE
Hosea 1:2–9, 3:1–5
Obedience demonstrated (1:2–7)
Hosea was a prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel in the 8th century B.C., and the book named for him is one of the more interesting books in the Bible because of what God commands the prophet to do: marry an adulterous, unfaithful woman. This is not to be understood as Hosea misunderstanding God.
Some people try to justify this action as Hosea not really hearing God correctly, but the Bible is clear — God is the One who commands Hosea to do this, and Hosea is diligent to obey.
The purpose behind this command becomes clear later in the book.
Hosea’s wife, Gomer, gave birth to a son, and God told Hosea to name him Jezreel.
The name Jezreel had a very foreboding meaning to Israel. This is the place where Jehu had ended the reign of Ahab and his awful wife Jezebel. The name was a warning to the people: God was going to bring judgment upon Israel just as He did through Jehu years before in the Valley of Jezreel.
Later, Gomer gave birth to a daughter, and God told Hosea to name her Lo-Ruhamah, which means not loved. God was using this name to show He was going to take His love away from Israel. The daughter’s name would be an indicator of what God was going to do to Israel.
Unfaithfulness seen (8–9)
Gomer then had another son, and God said to name this one Lo-Ammi, which means not my people, because God saw the northern tribes as illegitimate, just as Lo-Ammi was an illegitimate child.
This child’s name, along with the other three incidents — Hosea’s marriage to an unfaithful wife and the names of the other two children — were to be a sign to the people of Israel that they had committed spiritual adultery by turning to foreign gods.
Because of this, God was going to bring judgment upon the country. However, God was going to show love to the people of Judah because they had not been unfaithful to Him.
This message would have been shocking to the Israelites because they hated Judah. The kingdom of Judah was a rival to the northern tribes, and the suggestion that God was going to bless Judah and punish Israel would have been a cause of great consternation.
Restoration sought (3:1–5)
At some point after Chapter 1, Gomer left Hosea and was bound to another man.
God instructed Hosea to go and be restored to his wife by purchasing her back.
This was a demonstration of how God was going to be restored to the Israelites after their eventual exile. The northern kingdom was about to be taken into captivity by the Assyrians in 722 B.C., but God’s plan involves restoration.
God will punish sin. The entire kingdom of Israel was going to be punished because of the people’s spiritual adultery.
They had turned away from God and had mixed their religion with the religions of the Canaanites. They actually thought they were religious and not in violation of God’s commands, which is why God sent prophets to get them back on track.
This is the same for us today. God desires our obedience. While we do not mix our worship of God with Canaanite fertility rites, we are guilty of turning from God every time we sin. Sinning is disobedience to God and is a form of idolatry because we choose to obey our desires.
However, just as God planned to restore His people of the Old Testament ultimately through Christ, we are redeemed in the same way. God’s plan for all people is for us to be reconciled to Him by believing in Christ and trusting in Him as payment for our disobedience.
God is long-suffering and loving, and He loves us enough to not leave us in our sins. He often disciplines us in order to get us to focus on Him. God shows us grace by forgiving our sins because of Christ’s sacrifice.
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